A comparison of special, general and support teachers' controllability and stability attributions for children's difficulties in learning

Lisa Woolfson, Elizabeth Grant, Lindsay Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The study aimed to explore teachers' attributions for learner difficulties in their schoolwork. In order to explore their attributions of controllability and stability, three groups of teachers, general mainstream class teachers (N = 39), mainstream learning support teachers (N = 35), and special school teachers (N = 25) were asked to rate vignettes about children's difficulties. The results showed that the two groups of teachers working in the mainstream settings viewed learners with identified support needs as having less control over their performance than those with no specific support needs, while special school teachers viewed both learner groups similarly. Similar findings were found for teacher attributions of controllability in high- and low-ability learners. Stability attributions across all conditions showed that special school teachers viewed children's difficulties as more amenable to change than did the two groups of mainstream teachers. The implications of these findings for inclusion in mainstream schools are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages11
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2007


  • educational psychology
  • learning
  • teaching
  • children

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